When he first broke into the mortgage business, Scott Evans followed the script provided to him by the small mom-and-pop broker shop where he worked. Evans would reach out to real estate agents and ask if he could call the people who attended their open houses to get them approved for a loan.
Or he would offer to call the Realtor’s past clients to see if they were in the market for a new home. Evans saw this as trying to create value out of thin air.
“It was based off their databases,” Evans said. “They’re the ones doing the open houses. It’s their past clients. I didn’t have anything.”
Still, the strategy proved effective. Evans, who began originating loans in 2006, developed relationships with a couple of the top real estate agents in the San Diego area, people who had military backgrounds. Even though he hadn’t served in the armed forces, Evans developed a thriving business through U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) lending.
About four years ago, Evans embraced a new strategy, something that has helped to put his business into overdrive and make inroads into new parts of the country. Evans, who is a senior vice president at OneTrust Home Loans in San Diego, started hosting free homebuying seminars for both VA clients and traditional homebuyers. “My first five seminars, not a single person showed up. Zero,” he said.
But he didn’t give up. He worked with a social media consultant to better target advertisements, especially on Facebook. He sharpened the presentation. Now he’s regularly drawing dozens of people to the seminars, including more than 100 at an event earlier this year in Los Angeles.
(Hosting homebuying seminars has) allowed me to transcend into different markets, which is super hard to do.
He no longer does the presentations himself. Instead, he employs people to hold about 15 seminars a month, usually on weekdays. He provides food and a single alcoholic drink. The seminars are held in person since he’s found it creates a better energy as opposed to online. People at home on Zoom can be distracted, but those who sign up and drive to an event are more committed. And Evans can see how the people who attend get involved. Better yet, Evans invites top real estate agents or their representatives to appear at the seminar. They witness the engagement firsthand. He’s used the seminars as a way to make a connection with agents.
“It’s allowed me to transcend into different markets, which is super hard to do, because typically Realtors want to work with someone right there, local in their market,” Evans said. “By doing this, it has allowed me to go into any market.”
He’s not the first originator to host seminars. But he’s put the work into the project — the marketing through social media, the text messages to remind people to attend and the script for the presentations. And it’s worked for him. In 2021, Evans ranked No. 2 for Top VA Volume and No. 15 for Top Dollar Volume in Scotsman Guide’s rankings. He closed 1,325 loans for $664 million in loan production. His business last year was evenly split: 50% purchase loans and 50% refinances. Evans worked for CrossCountry Mortgage LLC until making the move to OneTrust earlier this year.
He figures about half of his business last year came from the seminars. It’s been an effective way to get in front of real estate agents and offer them value instead of the other way around. “Now I’m in the driver’s seat,” Evans said. “I create business to give to the Realtors.” ●